Published November 19, 2013
Volume 21, Number 11

Shepherd’s Gate Reaches Out to the Community

Shepherd’s Gate has been providing “a safe haven for women and their children who are homeless because of abusive relationships, addictions, loss of financial support, and other factors” since 1984. With facilities in Livermore and Brentwood that accommodate a total of 95 women and children at any one time, the provider of services and housing sees many ways to tend to families in need.

Coming up is the Holiday Outreach Program, with three specific areas of focus.The first, new this year, is Adopt-A-Shelter, an opportunity for the community to donate items essential for the operational needs of three large homes that are subject to more than normal wear and tear.

“We serve hundreds of women a year, and things break down or wear out,” remarks Director of Marketing Jennifer Harp. “We rely on donations to replace them.”

Adopt-A-Shelter has a wish list of consumables in multiple categories—Kitchen, Bed/Bath, Childcare, and Classroom Supplies.

Adopt-A-Family is a parallel giving program that addresses the personal wish lists of current and past shelter families, making sure both parents and children have holiday gifts to enjoy.

Both are perfect for groups--churches, businesses, clubs, for example—that want to collaborate on a holiday giving campaign, Harp notes.

The third support opportunity, the Holiday Food & Toy Distribution, reaches farther out into the community. Shepherd’s Gate personnel have already started collecting donations for the bags of groceries and children’s toys that will be distributed on its two campuses over a weekend in mid-December to those “who are struggling financially during the holiday season.”

The nonprofit’s good works do not end with the holidays. The organization’s innovative 24-in-Your-Car, designed to draw attention to the needs of the mobile homeless, will be back in May 2014 for the third time. The well-received event offers the general public a brush with the experience of what it’s like to call the car home, in an abbreviated, and much less threatening, group setting.

Activities include discussion groups, music, testimonies, convenience store meals, service projects, and sleeping in the car. Participants are asked to gather $24 pledges from family and friends to support the nonprofit’s good works. “We have families, youth groups, businesses, and churches that sign up,” Harp says.

To build awareness and understanding of the difficulties faced by the mobile homeless, Harp willingly subjected herself to the challenge itself. In the past two years she spent two separate weeks living in a borrowed van and is gearing up for a third round the first week in December. As before, she will share her experiences in a video blog that is not just enlightening but also serves as a powerful promotional and fundraising tool.

“Last year, a donor offered a match if I raised $5,000 from my blog. We ended up raising almost $14,000!” Harp exclaims. The blog has also been a launching pad for pantry item drives, inspiring youngsters, teenagers, and parents to donate needed supplies.
“It’s a blessing to see everyone come together,” she comments.

For holiday wish list items and donation deadlines, visit shepgate.org and look for the Holiday slider or call (925) 583-8107.  To find out more about 24-in-Your-Car and view Harp’s blog, go to www.jenharp.com.


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